Women's Basketball Returns Home for Five-Straight Games

Nov. 28, 2012

Game 6 | illinois state vs. wisconsin-milwaukee
Date: Thursday, Nov.29 at 7:05 p.m.
Location: Normal, Ill.. | Redbird Arena
Live Stats: GoRedbirds.com
Twitter: @ISUwbb

NORMAL, Ill. - After grabbing two road wins last week, the Illinois State women’s basketball team returns to Redbird Arena for a five game homestand. ISU will open the five-straight home games with Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Thursday, at 7:05 p.m.

In ISU’s wins over Illinois-Chicago and Western Kentucky, the same four Redbirds scored in double figures in both games. In both wins, Candace Sykes led the Redbirds with 20-plus points. At UIC, she poured in 20 points and had 22 at WKU. In two games, Janae Smith had 29 points, Jamie Russell made 25, while Alexis Jenkins added 23. At Western Kentucky, Smith recorded her first double-double of the season with 11 points and a career-high 12 rebounds. For their performances, Sykes and Smith were named the Missouri Valley Conference Player and Newcomer of the Week, respectively.

Thursday’s game will mark the fifth meeting between Illinois State and Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The Redbirds hold a 3-1 advantage, winning the most recent game during the 2010-11 season on Dec. 28 in Normal, Ill. ISU won by seven, 79-69. During the 2009-10 season, the Redbirds held the Panthers to 38 points, defeating Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 51-38, on Dec. 15. The Redbirds have won their three games over the Panthers by an average of 7.7 points. The series dates back to the 2000-01 season. ISU holds a 2-0 record of games played in Redbird Arena.

Senior Candace Sykes and sophomore transfer Janae Smith were named the Missouri Valley Conference Player and Newcomer of the Week, as announced by the league office Monday. It is the first weekly Valley honor for Sykes and the third-straight accolade for Smith. Sykes was ISU’s leading scorer in both of the Redbird road wins last week, netting 20-plus points in both games. At Western Kentucky, Sykes poured in 22 points, one point shy of her career-high 23 points. Sykes made 50 percent of her field goal attempts and three-point attempts in the 83-68 victory. In ISU’s 86-74 win at UIC, Sykes had 20 points. Sykes averaged 21.0 points and 5.5 rebounds last week. Smith recorded the first double-double of her Redbird career in ISU’s win over Western Kentucky. In the game, Smith tallied 11 points and 12 rebounds, a career high on the boards. Against UIC, Smith had 18 points and seven rebounds, as the Redbirds defeated the Flames, 86-74. Through the two Redbird road victories last week, Smith averaged 14.5 points per game and 9.5 rebounds per game. It marks the fifth MVC weekly honor for the Redbirds. Jamie Russell earned player of the week on Nov. 11.

Illinois State and Wisconsin-Milwaukee will see similar opponents throughout the 2012-13 season. The Redbirds have already faced off the Panthers’ Horizon League foe Illinois-Chicago. ISU defeated UIC, 86-74, on Nov. 21 at the UIC Pavilion. Wisconsin-Milwaukee will face off against the Flames twice this season (Feb. 7 & March 7). When they travel to Normal, Ill., the Panthers will face their first of three Missouri Valley Conference opponents. UWM will also face Bradley (Dec. 4) and Drake (Dec. 29).

In ISU’s two road wins last week, the Redbirds scored 80-plus points in each game. At Illinois-Chicago, Illinois State won 86-74 and defeated Western Kentucky, 83-68. With the Redbirds back-to-back 80-plus point victories, ISU only needs one more 80-point victory to match the three it had last season. During the 2011-12 season, Illinois State recorded back-to-back 80-plus point wins against Northern Iowa (84-68) and Bradley (82-63) on Feb. 10 and 12, respectively.

The Illinois State women’s basketball team won two road games last week and did it with a strong offensive performance from four players. The same four Redbirds recorded double-figure scoring performances in back-to-back games. In ISU’s win at UIC,
Candace Sykes led all Illinois State players with 20 points, while Janae Smith added 18. Jamie Russell and Alexis Jenkins scored 14 and 13 points, respectively. It marked the first time since last season when ISU had four players in double figures against Missouri State on Feb. 27, 2012. At Western Kentucky, Sykes led all scorers with 22 points, one point shy of her career high, while Smith and Russell had 11 points. Jenkins added 10 points to the ISU total.

In the Redbirds’ loss against Memphis, ISU’s bench outscored the Tigers, 23-17, marking the first time this season Illinois State’s bench outscored an opponent. Since the Memphis game, Illinois State has poured in more bench points than all of its opponents.
At Western Kentucky, ISU scored 35 bench points compared to WKU’s 22 points. At UIC, the Redbirds tallied 21 more bench points than the Flames. Illinois State’s bench added 27 points to ISU’s total, while Illinois-Chicago’s bench added just six points. Candace
Sykes has led the scoring attack from the bench in all three games.

Out of five Redbird seniors, four have had a chance to make shots from the free throw line. Out of 35 attempts, the four seniors have made 34 free throws. Jamie Russell leads the Redbirds and is third in the Missouri Valley Conference in free throw percentage, making a near perfect 95 percent through five games. The Rock Falls, native has attempted 19 free throws so far during the 2012-13 season, and has missed just one time. Alexis Jenkins and Candace Sykes are perfect from the charity stripe. Jenkins has connected on 8-of-8 from the line, while Sykes has made six free throws. Megan Grace has also made two extra shots in two attempts.

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